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St. Maarten still experiencing dengue epidemic

TUESDAY, 22 OCTOBER 2013

53 cases in September, 68 in August

PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten is still experiencing a dengue fever epidemic, the Health Ministry’s Section General Health Care (SGHC) said in a press release on Monday. There were approximately 53 confirmed dengue cases in September and 68 in August. There was also one case of severe dengue or dengue hemorrhagic for which the person was hospitalised.

The total number of confirmed dengue cases from January to September stands at 226. The type of dengue circulating throughout the country is four. The main districts with high dengue fever numbers are St. Peters, Cay Hill, Cul de Sac and South Reward.

SGHC urges residents to continually be active in taking measures to mitigate the mosquito population, especially after the downpour of rain on Monday.  Vector control activities have stepped up. These include prompt response to the search of yards and gardens for mosquito breeding sites; stepped up media campaign; and fogging activity carried out September 5-21, it was stated in the release.

Residents with dengue fever symptoms are urged to consult with their family physician who can then refer them to the lab for a test that will confirm whether they have dengue and give the proper advice to ensure a healthy recovery avoiding other health risks.  Dengue symptoms include high fever, severe headache, backache, joint and eye pain, nausea and vomiting, and rash. Once a person has developed a fever, the infectious period lasts for about a week. Most people recover without any complications, using pain relievers, liquid intake (preferably water or juice) and bed rest. Avoid self-medication and consult your physician.

SGHC calls on the com- munity to take daily actions to eliminate mosquito breeding opportunities around homes and workplaces. Check containers such as buckets and water tanks for larvae on a daily basis and eliminate the breeding source. Water tanks should be properly secured and screened to prevent mosquitoes from entering. If there are no containers with water for mosquitoes to lay their eggs there will not be any adult mosquitoes.

Dengue fever is trans- mitted by the female vector Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which is distinguished by its markings: The body of the mosquito has alternate black and white horizontal stripes. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito lays her eggs in clear (clean) stagnant water. Within eight days the mosquito can complete its life cycle from egg to larvae to pupae to adult mosquito.

Even after cleaning up their yards and surroundings, it is recommended for persons to walk around their surroundings on a weekly basis and after rainfall to eliminate all possible breeding sites. Minister of Public Health Cornelius de Weever’s “Get Checked” campaign is in line with the urgent appeal for residents and business owners to check in and around their homes and businesses to reduce breeding sites of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito and make them mosquito-free zones.

SGHC issued an urgent call on the community, especially homeowners, to be proactive in implementing mosquito preventive measures on their own property to prevent vector-borne diseases. Persons are urgently recommended to keep their homes, yards, neighbourhoods, open lots and work environment free from mosquito breeding sites.

Mobilise family, friends, neighbours and colleagues to take actions collectively to eliminate mosquito breeding sources. Homeowners can reduce the number of areas where adult mosquitoes can find shelter by cutting down weeds adjacent to the house foundation and in their yards, and mowing the lawn regularly.   “On a daily basis check plants in your yard for mosquito breeding sites, keep vegetation properly trim and avoid over- grown vegetation.

Check around construction sites or do-it-yourself improvements to ensure that proper back filling and grading is realised to prevent drainage problems which can be a source of standing water.      “When out during dusk and dawn hours, use mosquito repellent or wear proper clothing to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. An increase in the mosquito population puts all residents and businesses at risk.”

Additional informa- tion can be obtained by calling 542-2078 or 542- 3003 or e-mailing surveillance@sint- maartengov.org

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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